Leyden Jars – Heat Death


[Reviewed by Peter Marks]

From within the Glass Isle come Leyden Jars, continuing to reveal the strangeness which is to be found in what others gloss over. It takes patience to come to any sort of understanding with regard to ‘Heat Death’. Unlike their other project what’s being accessed here is primordial in tone, the very elements which when acted upon by a catalyst achieve sentience; those behind this album are that catalyst. Where once there was only a void now there is an intellect at work. Observing. Cataloging. Quietly moving through three dimensions whilst plainly coming from the fourth. Perhaps it is just artistic license but I suspect this record’s cover is indicative of what happens when the mysterious chemistry at work contained herein begins to leak out.

Do we term this experimental? Would minimalism be the best summation? Both of these are part of the formula but they’re only employed to draw a person into the complexities which these two are gnawing away at. There are coordinates making up some of the titles, other compositions are just a single word while you get a complete diorama being depicted on several; the only similarity to what they have done before would be in the arrangement of elements. If you wanted to view ‘Heat Death’ as the darker, more subversive half you wouldn’t be far off the mark.

The more I listen in, the more questions I have and the more my mind wanders from whatever path it started out on. How Leyden Jars sound at the beginning of this release is nothing like where they arrive at by the time “An Island Tale” closes everything out. There’s an emphasis on the lower register, bass and sub bass are employed with decimating effect; the grime of mechanical synthesis and a complete abandonment of emotions, the purity attained in what they write has much in common with laboratory exercises meant to create new and completely alien substances. We’re not dealing with extraterrestrial endeavors, however, these molecules are fixated on the possibilities to be found right here on our watery rock drifting through the stars.

I actually find myself enjoying this outing more than what they’d done under the Glass Isle banner; their pieces have a sparse and wonderfully wandering feel to them, as though what they found on their little island proved too enticing to leave alone. The damn thing is too short. Oh, if you’ve not seen a Leyden Jar in action then this review may not make much sense; your scribe spent quite a few nights watching footage of them while listening and I must say that the sounds on ‘Heat Death’ do them proud.

You definitely start to sense the paranoia once you reach “1am, 27 Degrees”. The hostility of unblinking eyes under a microscope comes to mind; someone’s watching and rather than trying to hide what they’re doing, Leyden Jars opt to conduct their operations right out in the open and why not? The populace at large are such mindless drones that they’ll never notice. Hey what was that? Shut up and stay on the Google analytic course social media has cajoled you into accepting. The modern world may be a gilded cage yet for all the enticements and alluring deceit there are those who will not bend or bow to anything but their own creative ends; this is a collection of work for just such individuals.

Leyden JarsHeat Death
Mordant Music, MM085
MC/Digital 2016

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